SYDNEY Nov 15 Australian building materials
group James Hardie Industries Ltd said its
second-quarter net profit fell a sharper-than-expected 16
percent due to the impact of liability claims.
The world's largest maker of cement products said on
Thursday the outlook for the United States was encouraging,
although there was uncertainty about how the housing industry
would deal with tight credit conditions and high unemployment.
It expected to report profit of $140 million-$150 million
for the year ending March, at the low end of a previously
projected range of $140 million-$160 million.
Net operating profit, before asbestos and tax adjustments,
was $34.8 million, 16 percent lower than a year ago and below
the $38.4 million average forecast in a Reuters poll of five
Estimates had ranged from as low as $21 million to as high
as $48 million.
James Hardie announced an interim dividend of 5 cents per
share for the first half, higher than 4 cents a year earlier.
The company earns two-thirds of its revenue in the United
States and Europe.
Shares in the company, which are listed on the New York
Stock Exchange, closed at $46.50 on Wednesday, pulling back from
a multi-year high of $48.55 last week.